If anyone can teach dogs to fly a plane (yes, you are reading this right) then it's Mark Vette, animal behaviorist extraordinaire who, according to the video, has taught an octopus to take a photo, turned dogs into ball boys, and also previously taught dogs to drive a car.
So naturally the next logical step is to get a bunch of dogs in a plane and get them to fly it. New Zealander Vette spent four months teaching three rescue dogs—Reggie, Shadow and Alfie—how to pilot a Cessna plane.
It all starts with a custom-built wooden flight simulator where the dogs learned turning left, right, and straight ahead using blue, red, and white lights. Then, once Vette was satisfied they weren't going to crash in a ball of fire, they went up and each completed a figure 8 in the sky in the Cessna 172. Reggie was the quickest learner and Vette says the dog spent 15 minutes flying the plane at one point.
"We built a deep connection to the dogs we were training, and that formed the basis for why we were able to achieve this feat." says Vette. "The crucial element was communication - we needed to understand the dogs, and the dogs needed to understand us and what we wanted them to do. By building a shared language I call Dog Zen, we were able to guide the dogs through the flying process.”
It's hard to believe this is actually legit, but if you watch the video you see the pilot of the aircraft taking his hand off the controls while the dogs steer. It was all part of a British TV show called Dog’s Might Fly.
“Most importantly, this exercise has proven that shelter dogs are not secondhand goods." Vette notes. "They are smart dogs that deserve a chance at life. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about dog welfare and rescue, and I feel that’s the entire point of what we did - to bring attention to the fact that there are thousands of dogs abandoned every year that are good dogs that need to find good homes.”
Good homes and also maybe homes with their own aircraft that need piloting.